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Search didn't come up with any results so here's my question:

From summer 1981 to summer 1984 I was in Shreveport LA and made many trips to eastern Texas and remember seeing a lot of PFE cars.

I've seen some PFE cars online - some have the UP logo; some have SP logo; and some both; and some have other logos.

Any idea what those cars I saw in eastern TX would have had considering the time period?

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PFE is an abbreviation for Pacific Fruit Express and its reefer cars were a pool for the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, and other railroads that hauled perishable fruits.

Back in the day, the Southern Pacific was all over east Texas. So my guess would be that the reefers you saw back then were likely cars with the UP logo on one side and the SP logo on the other side. 😉

The PFE was founded in 1906 and jointly operated by both UP and SP starting in 1907 and lasted until 1978, when they ended their alliance, and the resultant inventory of refrigerator cars was split up between the two; although now it's wholly owned by UP.  Western Pacific joined the operation in the early 1920s and stayed with them until the late 1960s when they decided to go with Fruit Growers Express (FGE) instead.  No other railroad was ever part of PFE to the best of my knowledge.

So in the early 80s you would have still seen a large amount of PFE cars still sporting the joint SP and UP logos together and would continue to see them this way while the post-split paint schemes with just one road or the other's logo with SPFE (Southern Pacific Fruit Express) or UPFE (Union Pacific Fruit Express) reporting marks would start to become more commonplace over time.  The roads often times didn't bother doing a full repaint and leave the legacy cars as they were until they were retired or as part of undertaking damage repairs or rebuilds.

Last edited by John Korling

The PFE cars could have been loaded with any dry commodity that would not contaminate the interior if the railroad was still using the cars for perishable shipments.

I can't tell you when SP exited the perishable freight business, but even when it was running strong, perishable shipments on western railroads were almost entirely fruit and vegetables headed east.  Often, refrigerator cars made empty at their eastern destination were loaded with nonperishable commodities for a westward trip, to avoid running them empty.  One such operation was a weekly shipment of pornographic magazines delivered to the ATSF team track at First Street in Los Angeles.

Last edited by Number 90

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